After an attempt to build fails, will Sacramento Kings seek a new castle?

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Thumbnail image for arco.jpgUnder mayor Kevin Johnson — yes, former Suns player Kevin Johnson — there has been a renewed effort in Sacramento to find a way to build a new arena that would keep the Kings in town.

But the latest and best in a while plan — a complex swap of the ARCO Arena land with the Cal Expo land in the city — has fallen through, as Tom Ziller explains well over at FanHouse. This was a bold and complex deal that just wasn’t to the taste of a more conservative Expo board.

So we’re back to square one, with ideas but ones in the relatively early stages.

ARCO Arena is 22 years old and was built before the economics of NBA arenas (really all sports buildings) shifted. Luxury suites and the high-end seats (which can come with wait staff, access to private clubs and more) are what drives the revenue in today’s market. Those “real fans” up in the cheap seats matter as a fan base, but it’s the luxury boxes that make most of the money. Owners need that revenue to really be profitable, to really compete.

The Maloof brothers have stepped back from direct involvement and have let an NBA consultant handle the new arena for them.

But they have options. Kansas City has a new arena and a thirst for a team. Anaheim’s Honda Center (called the Ponda by fans as it used to be the Pond) opened five years after ARCO but with rows of luxury boxes, along with plenty of corporate headquarters in surrounding Orange County.

The Maloofs have options. They have said they don’t want to move out of Sacramento, but they also want to pay for a new arena all on their own. And they have leverage.

If they make their announcement by March 31, 2011, they could be playing the season after next in a new city in a new arena. That is real leverage. And real pressure on Johnson and the people in Sacramento trying to keep them.

Victor Oladipo’s practice dunk better than anything he – or maybe anyone – did in dunk contest (video)

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Victor Oladipo has grown into far more than just a dunker.

In fact, in Saturday’s dunk contest, he didn’t look like a dunker at all.

The Pacers star missed all three attempts of his first dunk, and a Black Panther mask was by far the biggest draw of his second. Oladipo was eliminated after the first round.

Maybe Dennis Smith Jr. wasn’t the only eliminated dunker who left something in his bag. This Oladipo dunk – 180 degrees, throwing ball off the backboard with his left hand while in mid-air, dunking with his right hand – while preparing in Los Angeles was awesome.

Larry Nance Jr. had the contest’s best dunk. This would have rivaled it.

Pelicans owner Tom Benson hospitalized with flu symptoms

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METAIRIE, La. (AP) — New Orleans Saints and Pelicans Owner Tom Benson has been hospitalized with flu symptoms.

A statement released Wednesday by the NFL and NBA clubs says their 90-year-old owner is resting comfortably at Ochsner Medical Center, a hospital which also serves as a major sponsor and which owns naming rights to the teams’ training headquarters.

Benson has owned the New Orleans Saints since 1985 and bought the New Orleans Pelicans in 2012.

In recent years, Benson has overhauled his estate plan so that his third wife, Gayle, would be first in line to inherit control of the two major professional franchises.

 

Report: Seattle hosting Kings-Warriors preseason game

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Kevin Durant spent his rookie season in Seattle, before the SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder. He has said Seattle fans deserved to see him grow up in the NBA after supporting his promising start.

They’ll get their chance.

Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee:

The Kings and Golden State Warriors have scheduled a preseason game next season in Seattle, according to multiple league sources.

The Oct. 6 meeting between Northern California teams will be the first NBA game in the Key Arena since the Sonics moved to Oklahoma City after the 2007-08 season and became the Thunder.

This game will be loaded with storylines. Not only Durant, but the Kings considered moving to Seattle a few years ago. And of course, the return of NBA basketball to Seattle.

At some point, Seattle will get its own team again. For now, this preseason game creates intrigue there.

Report: Kawhi Leonard cleared medically, seeking second opinion

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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said he’d be surprised if Kawhi Leonard played again this season, a stark reversal from just a month ago. Back then, even while announcing Leonard was out indefinitely with a quad injury, the San Antonio coach said Leonard wouldn’t miss the rest of the season.

What’s going on?

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

After spending 10 days before the All-Star break in New York consulting with a specialist to gather a second opinion on his right quad injury, All-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard bears the burden of determining when he’s prepared to play again, sources told ESPN.

Leonard has been medically cleared to return from the right quad tendinopathy injury, but since shutting down a nine-game return to the Spurs that ended Jan. 13, he has elected against returning to the active roster, sources said.

The uncertainty surrounding this season — and Leonard’s future which could include free agency in the summer of 2019 — has inspired a palpable stress around the organization, league sources said.

At first glance, this sounds like Derrick Rose five years ago. Even after he was cleared to play following a torn ACL, the then-Bulls star remained mysterious about when he’d suit up. His confidence in his physical abilities seemed to be a major issue, and he was never the same player since (suffering more leg injuries).

But the Spurs famously favor resting players to preserve long-term health. They seem unlikely to rush back Leonard. They might even sit players who want to play more often. And Leonard isn’t Rose.

Still, it’s clear something is amiss in San Antonio. Maybe not amiss enough to end Leonard’s tenure there, but the longer this lingers, the more time for tension to percolate.